“All was lost after the disgrace in Adelaide, but then team India started to try and get out of the mess. Setbacks after setbacks kept on testing the temperament of India, but adversity kept on motivating this young team, who decided to take the blows and face the heat in the middle – it was Australia who melted under pressure”

 

If you are fighting then let the world witness how well do you fight – rather than getting knocked out after all the efforts, let the bruises on your face and body become the symbol of victory. If your feet are stuck on the quicksand then just don’t wait for the earth to devour you – crawl back to get out of the dark hole – let the world witness your grit, your patience, and how adversity motivates you.

Don’t lose.

Don’t give up.

Keep trying.

Fortune favours the brave.

Back in December 1977, an Australian unit met a strong Indian unit at Brisbane. Bishan Bedi floored the Australians in the first innings while India were undone by a rather inexperienced Australian bowling attack. Australia summoned Bob Simpson to salvage the pride of the Australian cricket and the veteran responded with 89 in the second innings as Australia gave India 341 to win the Test. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar led from the front and despite the fall of wickets, India kept the hopes alive and in the end, fell short by 16 runs. India lost the series by 3-2.

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Gabba witnessed a classic on that day and in the 80s, Australia have a bitter experience at the venue against England, New Zealand, and West Indies. Brisbane used to set the tempo for the visitors and the outcomes were frustrating for the home side.

In 1988, at the Gabba, the mighty West Indians gunned down Australia and since then, Brisbane has been a fort for the Aussies for almost three decades. Be it a strong England, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan, or India; whoever played in Brisbane, failed to breach the unbeaten record of Australia in Brisbane. You can smile at Adelaide or Sydney, but not in Brisbane.

But on December 18, 2021 – it was the visitors who were seen flying their flag with pride in Brisbane.

Over the years a lot of things have changed in cricket.

There are no teams with the aura of invincibility.

There are no undisputed champions of world cricket like Clive Lloyd’s West Indies or Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting’s Australia, rather the power has shifted to the east – India picked up the phone calls and respond to the tough challenges away from home and in Australia, for the last 17 years or so, they have been showing the world how to play better cricket down under.

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The Border-Gavaskar Trophy has become an iconic one since Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman played that marathon-innings to orchestrate a legendary turnaround. The Ashes has its own tradition and charm, the Pataudi Trophy is still trying its best to emerge as a serious contender the Wisden Trophy has lost its shine, The Warne-Murali Trophy along with Trans-Tasman and Frank-Worrell Trophy is one-way traffic and there is no charm in the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy either, while India and Pakistan do not play Test series anymore. Thus, apart from the Ashes, only the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has kept Test cricket alive amid the claims – Test cricket is dying.

Well, Test cricket is not dying, but yet again, it is evident, no other formats in cricket can match the dramatic twist and turn of Test cricket.

All was lost after the disgrace in Adelaide, but then team India started to try and get out of the mess. Setbacks after setbacks kept on testing the temperament of India, but adversity kept on motivating this young team, who decided to take the blows and face the heat in the middle – it was Australia who melted under pressure!

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After the epic Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), India came to Brisbane without the rest of the major players – you can easily claim, it was the other Indian unit, which was getting ready to face the heat at the Gabba. Guess what, astonishingly, the young team under Ajinkya Rahane gathered around and pulled their socks up to take the charm of Test cricket to the next level.

The Indian bowlers attacked the stumps better than the Australians, while the batters displayed better character to keep the Test alive – even in defeat there has to be a lot of pride involved and a bit more push could help achieve the impossible goal.

At Brisbane, there was that hunger of Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur, the classic touch of Shubman Gill, and wild spirit of Rishabh Pant, but it seems, all will forget the contributions of Chetheshwar Pujara again.

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If the Indians were able to breach the record at Brisbane then it was only because of the steely resolve of Pujara. His snail-paced batting earned him harsh criticism from the so-called modern-day cricket pundits, but it is hard to believe that such so-called modern-day pundits know the game better than fans like us and keeping in mind their vast experience and knowledge about the game on and off the field, how could they deny the importance of creating the foundation for the rest remains less understood.

Glorifying the Franchise Leagues will fetch money and help to hog the limelight more, but at least, one expects such pundits to speak the truth so that the next generation understands the value of patience and skill, and intricacies of Test cricket.

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Had Pujara not lain the foundation with his snail-paced batting then it would have never possible for the young guns to push for the victory. It is very important to install steadiness at one end so that a sudden collapse does not engulf the whole innings. Pujara’s value was unquestionable in Melbourne, Sydney, and in Brisbane, he was more than impactful.

Day 5 was the start of a day full of stiff-challenges for Pujara, who was hit on the helmet thrice during the course of the day. That was apart from a blow to the thumb that had him floored for over five minutes, and several bruises in the mid-riff and upper body as he endured to 8 off 94 at one point.

After almost 5 overs, Pujara had faced 62 short or short-of-good-length balls from the fast bowlers and been out of control against only ten of them. Of the ones he didn’t control, Pujara looked up for taking the blows – the strategy of occupying the crease frustrated the Australian bowlers as fatigue set in.

While Pujara was taking the blows and dug deeper, his partners flourished.

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And, the tri-colour was flying proudly in Australia at the end of a dramatic day of Test cricket.

India did the victory lap at the Gabba.

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They conquered adversity and made Test cricket proud. They had been the worthy winner in this series against a side that failed to exploit the conditions and displayed some poor batting and bowling throughout the series. But Australia’s average display becomes irrelevant in front of the brave display of the Indians – it is their time to celebrate. It is their time to bask in the glory.

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